Page 1

TRANS PROGRAMS

TRANS DAY OF REMEMBRANCE 2009 Transcript of the reading by Kyle Scanlon “Listening to those lists of names was so hard. I went through a number of emotions listening. Extreme grief at the horrific loss, fear for trans people here and abroad, pain as I imagine what the friends and lovers and families of all of those people must be going through…and I have finally settled at a good strong deep anger. Some of you may have already had the opportunity to review this year’s list of names, the names of the people who have been murdered since last Nov 20th who were themselves trans, were perceived to be trans, or they dared to love someone who was trans. As in previous years, the people on this list were brutally murdered. Here are a few more details to paint a more accurate picture of the final moments of these people’s lives. This won’t be pleasant for you to hear, and it won’t be pleasant for me to read, but this is the truth of why we’re here tonight. I won’t sugarcoat it. In 2001 there were 19 trans people (or those perceived to be trans) around the world who were reported murdered in that year. In 2005 that had risen to 29. And this year, 100. That’s a 500% increase.

Reading by Kyle Scanlon Education, Training and Research Consultant at The 519, in the Trans Day Of Remembrance video from 2009 on The 519 YouTube channel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmwy_sqZ9DQ

Yasmin, age unknown Died November 20, 2008 Attacked, beaten and killed Honduras Taysia Elzy, age 34 Michael Green, age 22 Died December 26, 2008 Taysia and Michael were shot to death. It is believed that they were murdered because Taysia was transgender and Michael was in a romantic relationship with her. Both were found dead in their apartment. Indiana, USA

THE 519 COMMUNITY CENTRE 519 Church Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9 Tel: 416-392-6874 Fax: 416-392-0519 info@The519.org The 519 Community Centre is a meeting place and focal point for the creative enhancement of a vibrant healthy downtown community.

PAGE 1 of 4


We do not actually know if this increase represents an increase in “reports” of trans deaths due to increased global social networking, where these deaths may have simply gone unreported and unacknowledged in the past - , or if this represents an actual global increase in violence against trans people, and people who are perceived as trans. Out of these hundred names I noticed how rarely gunfire had been involved. Only 25 were shootings. Most of these deaths stem from intimate violence. Two people (or more in the case of group beatings) within arms reach of each other, touching. Most of the people murdered this year were stabbed to death, with the occasional decapitation, brutal beating, strangulation and immolation thrown in. As Richi Anne Wilkins has stated, “Trans People are never killed from 50 yards away with a high powered rifle. We are killed up close and personal. People want to see us die.” The murdered range in age from 16 to 64. Where age was reported, only 6 were over the age of 40. Only a handful of people who identified as male were killed. One was a drag queen, and one was the non-trans male partner to a trans woman. It is possible the few others are FTM, but not certain. Of the total number of names, 41 are actually “unnamed” and anonymous and all we know of these souls is the month in which they died. Their anonymity suggests that these women had few ties to family or community. Which means it’s likely these women would never have received a funeral filled with flowers and music. These are truly the forgotten ones, and they make our job here tonight that much more important.

Dayana Garcia, age 31 Died January 22, 2009 Dayana was found dead in her own hairdressing salon. She had been stabbed 20 times. Peru Puttalakshmis, age 30 Died February 18, 2009 Puttalakshmis was Hijra. She was raped and thrown out of a moving vehicle. India Ede Yildrim, age 30 Died March 22, 2009 Eda was decapitated and her sexual organs were tossed in a waste dumpster. Turkey Ramona Martinez, age 26 Died April 23, 2009 Ramona was brutally burned, severly stabbed and left disposed of wrapped in a plastic sheet. Dominican Republic Dicksy Jones, age 64 Died May 6, 2009 The police reported that she was found in her apartment with ‘severe injuries’. New Zealand Name Unknown, age 16 Died June 22, 2009 She was a sex worker shot to death by a client. Brazil Beyonce (Eric) Lee, age 21 Eric Lee was a drag performer who dressed as the famous singer Beyonce. Eric was found in his apartment where he had been stabbed to death. New Orleans, USA Andrea Waddell, age unknown Died October 15, year unknown She was strangled and then her apartment was set on fire. Unknown

THE 519 COMMUNITY CENTRE 519 Church Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9 Tel: 416-392-6874 Fax: 416-392-0519 info@The519.org The 519 Community Centre is a meeting place and focal point for the creative enhancement of a vibrant healthy downtown community.

PAGE 2 of 3


This service – such as it is – may offer one of the only ceremonies to honour their short lives. A large number were probably sex workers, but those details are rarely noted in the official death notifications we receive. Perhaps it isn’t perceived as relevant? We know it’s relevant. Many countries across the globe are represented in the death toll, including countries with all levels of wealth, all levels of development, and all levels of human rights protections. Although this year, not Canada. It would be so easy at this moment for us to attack other countries for their violent ways and point the finger of blame outward towards them. But violence against trans people happens everywhere and systemic oppression is universal. Instead of looking outward, perhaps we should look inward. In Canada people can apply for refugee status when they have a “reasonable fear of persecution” because of race, religion, or membership in a particular group. And yes, persecution because of being trans counts. But here’s the problem. Many countries that appear on this death toll offer legal and social protections for Trans people. In some countries, a trans person has held public office. In some the country’s public health system provides free sex-reassignment surgeries to eligible citizens. And one federal government has even released its “National Plan of Promotion of Citizenship and Human Rights of LGBTs.” Among the policies suggested in this plan are providing rights for trans people to change their legal name and sex designation without having to file a lawsuit. The sum total of which - by the standards of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board - trans asylum applications from these countries would be summarily dismissed because it would not be considered reasonable for them to have a fear of persecution. Refugee claims are rejected when a claimant qualifies for protection by their state. This is more true now than ever before. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has promised to refocus Canada’s refugee system on what the government calls “real victims” rather than migrants seeking to abuse the process. For the first time, Canada could actually fast-track rejections of refugee claimants from ‘safe’ countries. Those from such countries could not possibly have a legitimate claim as a refugee. They could not be in peril for their lives.Many of us in this room have witnessed this phenomenon ourselves. Two years ago some of us sat in a court room to support a young trans woman named Cher who was going to be sent back to her homeland. She was afraid for her life. We helped her lawyer gather evidence to prove that she was at great risk, to prove that she had a reasonable fear of persecution if she returned home. But the Government’s position was simply to read aloud a list of protections and benefits that had been legislated for trans people in that country. And poof, magically, apparently all danger disappeared. Because we all know that as soon as a government releases a position on human rights, everyone immediately throws aside decades of bias, stereotypes, fears, prejudices and hatred and begins sitting down together for afternoon tea. Cher was deported. And there was no appeal.

THE 519 COMMUNITY CENTRE 519 Church Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9 Tel: 416-392-6874 Fax: 416-392-0519 info@The519.org The 519 Community Centre is a meeting place and focal point for the creative enhancement of a vibrant healthy downtown community.

PAGE 3 of 4


In 2008 Canada received 34 800 applications for refugee status. They granted asylum to only 7,550 and have already deported roughly 12,000 back to their country of origin. I wonder...how many of those people were trans? And how many of them are still alive?I find myself wondering too…how is Cher? Let me be clear - I have no knowledge if any of the people we have honoured here tonight ever tried to seek refugee status in Canada or any other country. I’m not claiming they had. But I am almost certain that when any trans people came from those so-called “democratic countries” come to Canada and seek refugee status, they will be denied asylum, and deported quickly. Those countries are “one of the good guys” with all sorts of laws and policies that supposedly act as protection. I have yet to see a policy that stopped a beating, or legislation that wrestled a knife from someone’s hands. The Immigration and Refugee Board has much to answer for. Mr. Kenney has said he plans to introduce a major package of refugee reforms before Christmas as part of his campaign to speed the process and crack down on “bogus” refugee claims.We need to fight this. We can call for change to the systems that oppress our sisters and our brothers and differently gendered cousins and we can hold our government accountable for the deaths that they may have contributed to, or will contribute to in the future. And we need to join forces with other organizations and groups that specialize in working on immigration and refugee issues. Next week No One Is Illegal is hosting a community forum called: “What is Wrong With Canada’s Immigration System?” I urge you to join this fight. In honour of all the people who were murdered this year. Together we can challenge the Immigration and Refugee Board, we can tell them that we hold them responsible, that we perceive them as culpable and that the blood of our slain brothers, sisters and cousins is on their hands.In closing, let’s return to the people. The people we mourn tonight are more than just murder victims. These were living breathing human beings with humour, intelligence, creativity and compassion, but they lived in a world which had no compassion for them. So let this day – the Trans Day of Remembrance – serve as a global reminder that trans people exist, that we are not expendable, and that we will fight back.”

Kyle Scanlon Education, Training and Research Consultant at The 519

THE 519 COMMUNITY CENTRE 519 Church Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9 Tel: 416-392-6874 Fax: 416-392-0519 info@The519.org The 519 Community Centre is a meeting place and focal point for the creative enhancement of a vibrant healthy downtown community.

PAGE 4 of 4

Trans Day Of Remembrance 2009 YouTube Video Transcript  

Transcript of the reading by Kyle Scanlon, Education, Training and Research Consultant at The 519, in the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/wa...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you